Prague souvenirs

Taste of Prague's Czech Christmas Gift Guide

Taste of Prague's Czech Christmas Gift Guide

Yes, Christmas is coming in three days or so, and if you are like us, you have just started freaking out when you realized you have no Christmas presents for your loved ones. And your in Prague and you have no idea what to buy as the perfect Czech Christmas present. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. 

We have put together a small Czech Christmas Presents Guide for your convenience and pleasure. We asked ourselves a simple question: „What should you buy as the perfect Christmas present from Prague?“ It took us some time, but here’s our answers. You will see we’re quite a diverse bunch. Or are we? 

Prague local favorites: Botas 66

Prague local favorites: Botas 66

The guests of our Prague food tours often ask us about souvenirs they should get from Prague. We think you have to be smart when it comes to buying souvenirs anywhere: it has to be something relatively small, something that will survive the journey in your luggage unharmed, and something that has a story behind it you can later tell your friends when you show off what you brought home. Botas 66 sneakers (or trainers for those reading this in the UK) meet all these criteria.

Prague shopping - Botas 66 sneakers

Jan's Botas sneakers in front of the Ossuary in Sedlec, Kutna Hora. 

Jan's Botas sneakers in front of the Ossuary in Sedlec, Kutna Hora. 

"Hey, Zuzi and Jan, what is the coolest thing we can buy here in Prague?”

We get that a lot during our Prague food tours. And we do have suggestions that we like: instead of the tacky tchotchkes they sell around the Charles Bridge, we like things that mean something to us as Prague locals and that would normally go unnoticed by foreign visitors.

Our most common suggestion? Easy: the Czech Botas 66 sneakers. Virtually the only brand of sneakers available when we grew up in the 80s (yes, it was so hard being cool at that time), the Botas have now been slowly becoming the local hipster favorite since about five years ago when two design students came up with the idea to brush up the 1966 model and turn it into a street style fashion statement. Today they are one of the most popular sneakers around here. 

Now, we have a confession to make: Jan was suggesting them on almost every occasion but did not actually own a pair until about a month ago when he finally opted for the “track” model that is based on the 1980s running model. The model he chose (and which is pictured above) is called “Insane Track” (or “clown shoes”, as the baristas at EMA Espresso Bar dubbed them). They are still hand-made here in the Czech Republic and they allegedly retained all the original suppliers, so it’s still the “Eastern block” sneaker. They are fairly light and very comfortable.



OK, and now for the details:

How much are they?
The prices start at about EUR 50 and never go beyond EUR 75.

Where can I get them?
That’s a tricky one. Botas did close its central concept shop about a year ago and hasn’t found a replacement location since. JB Sport at Dlazdena 3 street in the centre has a small selection. If you want to see the full assortment, you’d have to travel a bit out of the centre to Artis-Botas Praha at Radlicka 11 street (tram 7 or 10 from Andel subway stop to Braunova stop). Finally, they do sell online within the EU (visit their online shop here). If you want to have them delivered to your hotel, why not? (Jan bought them online, too. Their fit is a bit tight so if you are in between regular sizes, he recommends you get the bigger one). 

May 2014 update:

Botas 66 finally has a designated store! (And a really cool one at that.) You can find it at Krizkovskeho 18 street on the border of the Vinohrady and Zizkov districts very near the TV Tower. Visit their website for further details.

Prague souvenir tips: Lemonade Joe


"Alcohol - when served in small doses - does not do harm in any quantity." - Hogo Fogo

If you are a regular visitor of our Prague blog, you may have noticed that we sometimes suggest an unorthodox souvenir from Prague. Something you may not have through of buying but something that says more about the Czechs than the Russian dolls and other tchotchke sold on the streets in the tourist centre. Something fun, something memorable. Today's suggestion is a classic Czech movie that most Czechs can quote line by line. That's also why it is included in the Czech DVD collection in our rental apartment. The movie is called "Lemonade Joe", and it's a Czech country and western comedy.

Yes, a Czech country and western movie. You see, the Czechs (just like the Germans, to some extent) have a strange, romantic fascination with the Wild Wild West. Starting from the Winnetou series by Karl May to modern-day Czech country and western music, the idea of riding a horse through the open range seems to be very, very appealing to many Czechs. Country Radio is one of the most popular radio stations in Prague and the Central Bohemian Region (which is a telling sign of the "high standards" Czech radio stations aspire to in general). And this is a fact that has not changed under the Communist Era, either, although clearly it was a bit suppressed. Still, the "tramping" movement was very popular, giving rise, in many respects, to the environmentalist "Brontosaurus" movement of the 1980s. 

Today's pick from our rental apartment's Czech DVD collection would be, in our opinion, the perfect "weird" gift that would lighten up any theme party at home wherever you may come from: the 1964 Comedy from the genius Czech comedy director, Ondrej Lipsky, "Lemonade Joe", is a true gem. You see, Mr Lipsky was spoofing western movies before it was cool and before anyone has ever heard of the Blazing Saddles.


Shot is very stark sepia colors to add the feeling of an old movie, Lemonade Joe is essentially the story of good and evil: the teatotalling Joe, as the sharpest shooter in Stetson City, persuades the regulars at the Trigger Whiskey Bar that alcohol is not the way. However, the owner of of the bar, and his evil brother, the villain Hogo Fogo, plot revenge. Add romance, heartbreak, never-ending gags and action... and have we mentioned this film is a musical? Yes, the movie has everything. Without trying to give away any spoilers, let's just say the movie ends with a Wayne's World-type of mega-super-happy-ending that even the most cynical of Hollywood producers would find tacky. Yes, this movie makes fun of everything and just does not care.

However, it does include an all-star cast from the 1960s, including sultry actresses Olinka Schroberova (former Miss Czechoslovakia who later escaped the country and married John Calley, the producer of the Superman movies) as the wife-to-be of Lemonade Joe, or Kveta Fialova, one of the most famous Czech actresses of the second half of the 20th Century, as Tornado Lou, the fallen woman and the star of the Trigger Whiskey Bar who is looking for a "champion of her heart" who would "make her better". 


What makes this movie a classic and why is it so loved by the Czechs? The film makes fun of everything: drunkards, dogmatic prohibition types, salesmen, villains, blondes, sharpshooters and femme fatales. Every cliche from your standard country and western movie is exaggerated to the point of parody. Money rules Stetson City. When Mrs Goodman realizes that Lemonade Joe is nothing but a salesperson for Kola Loka soda, she first expresses her never-ending love for Joe but then swiftly demands a cut from his proceeds (in a really cute way, though).

Then there are the songs: "Jo whiskey, to je moje gusto" (which roughly translates as "Whiskey, that's my cup of tea") is a staple song of any party of youngsters, including the high school prom (the legal age is eighteen here, you seniors can and do drink at their prom). The main villain, Hogo Fogo (which is the Czech equivalent of "Fancy Schmancy") is a great source of very funny and smart one-liners, too. But what wins every viewer's heart is the absurd but smart humor and a sense of funny carelessness. The Czechs adore this movie, and so will you. Trust us!

You can but the DVD ("Limonádovy Joe" in Czech) with English subtitles in any bigger music store. We would try Bontonland Megastore at the bottom of the Wenceslas Square or Musicland in the Palladium mall. Have fun!

Meet a local: Akari


Klára Krchová of Akari is not only my (Karolina reporting here) childhood friend, but also one of Prague's young fashion designers who makes the difference by persuading girls and women of all ages to wear skirts. "No trousers!" "Show some leg!" This is how she changes lives... for the better ;-).

Klára’s story is really A-class Hollywood material: it all started seven years ago with an innocent reaction to the bare fact that there were simply no cool skirts around. Cornered by the circumstances, Klára got to work with her grandma's sewing machine and a head full of ideas. Fast forward to today: she has her own atelier (Akarier) in the Letná district and hundreds of customers who color the streets up wearing her skirts. On top of managing, designing and modeling for Akari, Klára is also a brand new full-time mom. But guess what? It's a boy - so chances are Klára might actually make some trousers in the future, too (Naaaah... Not really! :-)) 

Where does such a cool person spend her free time and money in Prague and what are her insider tips? Well, that's what I found out for you in today's episode of our Meet a Local series. 


What are the TOP Prague fashion events no one should miss?

Design Market at the National Theatre piazzetta, which is coming up soon. The great thing about this one is that you cannot really miss it. You just bump into it while cruising the town and there's a great choice of fashion to buy. Then there’s the Fashion Market in the Holešovice market where you can find a mix of fashion, accessories and all the nice stuff. This market takes place three or even more times a year as fashion markets are gaining popularity here in Prague.

Where do you shop for clothes yourself?

Hahaha... I'm probably a bit specific here: there are actually only a few people who do something similar for a living to what I do, and so we all know each other. To be very honest, I usually tell my friends I like something from their last collection… and that's how I shop. :-) I stocked up on legginges from Young Primitive recently, after giving birth (an absolute necessity!), and my latest discovery is Piskacie tricka: crazy hooting t-shirts from Slovakia. I don't know these guys personally yet, but I'm really looking forward to meeting them, haha! I also like Mayda or Pattern, which does great clothes for men.

Where do they have the best coffee in Prague?

When I'm at work, it's definitely Pausa 412, which is only two floors above my atelier (in the fantastic Elektricke podniky Orco building full of independent artists and designers) and it's a total hidden jewel! The guys make really excellent coffee there. When I'm off, I go to café Nový svět. It is a tiny family-owned place in the Castle District, but they have a great selection of coffee and the atmosphere is just amazing. They are open only on Fridays to Sundays from 3:00 pm, so it's a bit of a challenge to actually find it open, but when you do, it's absolutely worth it!

What are your favorite places for eating out in Prague?

My favorite place for lunch is Bistro 8 in the Veverkova street. I have also had a long and friendly relationship with the U Parlamentu pub, which is very nice and local despite its location right in the centre of Prague. Recently, we have started visiting Wine & Food Market on Strakonická street, because we just love their live piano evenings on Fridays, and it is also a very "stroller-friendly" place... Sorry if that is not hipster enough for you! :-)

What is your favorite place in Prague and why?

The Břevnov district! I'm originally from the Dejvice district, but I have recently blended into Břevnov: for me, it symbolizes the perfect combination of peace and great accessibility from anywhere. I have everything at hand in there. I come out of my house with a stroller and I get all I need in a half-mile radius, which is great.


Where you can get Akari skirts:

  • Akarier atelier, Elektricke podniky Orco building, Bubenská 1, Prague 7 - currently not available for shopping with Klára on maternity leave
  • Dara Bags, Lidická 35, Prague 5 - TUTU collection (tulle skirts)
  • Kuráž, Benediktská 7, Prague 1
  • Pour Pour, Vinohradská 74, Prague 3
  • Julius Fashion Shop, Ostrovní 20, Prague 1

Prague (not only Christmas) Gifts Ideas


Tis the season to... talk about shopping, obviously. Don't get us wrong: we love Christmas and all the good things it brings: seeing family and friends, eating all the Christmas cookies (more on that later), watching fairy tales on TV, opening a bottle of wine and simply having some quality time. However, when it comes to shopping for gifts, many things can go wrong, especially when you shop abroad, and especially when you are walking along the beaten path.

So, in an attempt to steer you in the right direction, we bring you our annual tips for some of our favorite Christmas gift ideas. Now, what we did here is we imagined what we would have loved to get if we were your family members or friends. In some rare cases, we assumed you had an unlimited budget. But mostly we just wished for something cool and reasonably priced. However, we always picked something we thought really represents where the Czech Republic stands right now and where it comes from. Notable omissions include: Russian dolls of any kind, "My dad was in Prague and all he got me was this stupid t-shirt" shirts, overpriced glass and fake garnets. We have also set some imaginary categories of family members and friends for your convenience. Enjoy!

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For kids with imagination: Fatra inflatable toys

After a long pause, Fatra, the original manufacturer, has recently resumed the production of the classic inflatable toy designs by the famed toy designer Libuse Niklova. We had so much fun with these when we were kids. No trip to a pool was complete without these inflatable animals. Oh, we can still smell that rubber. Now you can buy a piece of modern design history and bring it home to your little ones. Just like us, they are going to love it - guaranteed! If you wish to learn more about Libuse Niklova and her work, we recommend that you buy her work’s catalogue compiled by her son. Where to buy? In the Guma retro shop at Jecna 24 street or online at their website. If you wish to shop for children in a regular shop, we recommend that you visit the beautiful Ookidoo shop near the National Theatre or Space4kids, another cool shop for kids near the Hradcanska subway stop. Oh, how we wish these shop had existed when we were small! 


For small scientists and rascals: Kooh-i-Noor mechanical pencils

We have already written about these a while ago but they still remain a great gift in our eyes. And with their factory store just a few steps off the Municipal House and the Powder Tower, there is now no excuse for not buying a set of these for an elementary school student. Just a quick tip that... ehm... "adds value": just screw the mechanics out of the metal casing, and you get a spit gun as a bonus (here’s an old school class recipe: just take the casing, punch one end through the peel of the orange you ate during recess, blow into the other end and - voila - you get an invitation to the principal’s office). In addition to the mechanical pencils, the store sells lots of leads, brushes, fantastic set of colored pencils and other accessories and tools for the aspiring artist. Where to buy? The Kooh-i-noor design shop at Na prikope 24 street. 

For your hipster friend or relative: Botas 66 sneakers

From disappointment 30 years ago to hipster accessory today: when we were young, a pair of Botas shoes was a bitter wake up call from our dreams about wearing Adidas and Puma sneakers. However, with their new, retro “Botas 66” fashion line, Botas made a huge splash about five years ago, and a pair of the bright-colored sneakers is now a must-wear item for all Czech hipsters and the like. Still made mostly by hand in Skutec, Czech Republic, the Botas retain an old-school feel but add modern, colorful design, high quality materials and good craftsmanship. Where to buy? JB Sport at Dlazdena 3 street has a very small selection but boasts a great, central location. For a proper assortment, you’ll have to travel outside of the centre to Artis - Botas shop at Radlicka 11, Prague 5. If these are not your cup of tea, you can also check La Gallery Novesta selling Novesta shoes and some pieces by Leeda, or you can visit our favorite Kurator or Debut Gallery for the wonderful Cutulum shoes.


For dad or grandpa: Zufanek slivovitz

Hailing from Borsice in the Slovacko region of Moravia, just about two miles from Zuzi’s birth village, the slivovitz (plum brandy) made by the Zufanek distillery comes as close to the real thing as possible, and is the best slivovitz money can buy today. Yes, “the best stuff does not have a label”, as Mr Fric, a famous Czech chef, says to glorify Czech moonshine, but Zufanek comes very, very close. If you do not like Slivovitz, Mr Zufanek’s family also makes brandies from other fruits: pear, sour cherry, apricots, juniper, even walnuts. Where to buy? Sklizeno foodie market has a nice selection in different sizes, as does the Bartida shop and bar.


For the design lover with cash to spare: Dechem glassware

Following up on a tradition dating back to the 13th Century, Ms Tomiskova and Mr Jandourek, two young Czech designers, founded the Dechem studio in 2012 to “tell new stories in Bohemian glass". Their lamps and tabletop decorations immediately caught the attention of many design fans all over Europe. Be ready to splash some serious cash for their creations but their products are truly beautiful and forward-thinking. We would love this as a gift. Anyone? Where to buy? The Qubus design shop in the Dox Centre for Contemporary Arts, the Debut gallery, one of the great Artel shops and the Kubista shop.


For paper lovers: Modern Czech Stationery

Who does not love the smell of paper? We certainly do. When combined with clever design, we think a piece of modern stationery can be a great present. Our favorite Czech stationery designers include Papelote, which has been on the market for a few years and sells everything from envelopes to folders to diaries and notebooks and, importantly, wrapping paper, Paragraph, a young independent studio seated in the Zizkov district, and VOALA. Where to buy? Both Papelote and Paragraph have their own shops (see their websites linked in this paragraph). In addition, Paragraph stationery can be bought at Page Five, a recently opened independent publishing house with a shop that sells everything from books and magazines to stationery and posters, and in our favorite Kurator.

For your coffee snob friends: Chemex dripper + Doubleshot coffee

Do your loved ones love coffee and design? Why not combine the two? The Chemex coffeemaker, although not Czech, is a beautiful object by itself that will double as a decorative piece in any kitchen. Use it to make drip coffee from beans roasted by Doubleshot, the Prague-based coffee roasters who supply coffee to almost all the good cafés in Prague. You can buy a tasting set of three different coffees of your choice from their assortment. Where to buy?Muj salek kavy, one of the most popular cafes in Prague, is the flagship café owned by the Doubleshot roasters. In addition to delicious coffee and cakes, you can buy all the props to make great coffee at home. 

For design lovers who have everything: Brokis lamps

The installation of lamps by Brokis, based near Jihlava, Czech Republic, was one of our favorites at this years Designblok, the annual design show in Prague. Combining the creativity of young designers and the beauty of high-quality Czech glass, the lamps offer some striking designs. So good they were features in a recent Yves Saint Laurent video! Our favorites include the Shadow and Muffin lamps by designers Lucie Koldova and Dan Yeffet, the Capsula lamps by Lucie Koldova, and the Balloon lamps by Boris Klimek. Where to buy? The easiest way is to inquire for Brokis products at their website. They have stockists all around the world and are sold by several online shops. Try to google them.


For just about any woman (or man): Modern Czech jewelry

What woman does not like shiny things? The Czech Republic has recently witnessed the rise of many talented designers, ranging from the more traditional (e.g. Belda) to the more daring. These might not be to everyone's taste but are surely going to get everyone's attention. Our favorites include Zorya with their Virus collection, Janja Prokic and her Le Grand Jeu collection, Antipearle pearl-based jewelry with an edgy look, and Blueberries 3D-printer based designs. Where to buy? Zorya can be bought in their Letna-based studio (by appointment only), in the Dox by Qubus store and the Simple Concept Store. Janja Prokic can be had in the Debut Gallery, Antipearle sells its products in its showroom at Janackovo nabrezi from 10am to 6pm from 18 to 23 December, and Bluberries pieces can be bought online at their website, in the Leeda shop and at Modernista


For wine and glass lovers: A Czech red and glassware by Czech designers

Czech wines have been getting very good recently and although they are mostly known for whites, you can find some good reds here, too (although they will never have so much body as an Australian cabernet). And is there a better way to enjoy a good red than from a designer carafe and glasses? No, we didn't think so. Czech designers have always designed really nice glassware for wine and food alike. The glasswares by the Olgoj Chorchoj studio, Rony Plesl, Martin Zampach or the LLEV studio are among our favorites. Use them to devour a glass of some of our favorite Czech reds: the 2009 Shisar by Mr Zapletal, the 2009 Neronet by the Prague-based winery Salabka, or the 2009 Trkmanska by Stapleton Springer. Where to buy? The carafe at Hard-De-Core, and the wines at the Vinograf wine bar. Both can be found at the Senovazne namesti square in the centre of Prague.  


For your friend who looooves cooking at home: Lugi kitchen accessories

Lugi, the Czech manufacturer of modern design furniture such as our "when we grow up, we'll buy this" table, has found an ingenious way of putting that excess material resulting from their manufacturing process to good use: create a line of kitchen accessories and tableware. Their wooden trays, cutting boards and salt and pepper grinders are really cool, beautifully made and sport nice minimalist designs. Where to buy? Pavilon. the furniture and design complex at the Vinohradska trance market.


For your chocolate-loving aunt: Passion chocolates and pralines

Made in the Kbely district of Prague, these designer chocolates and pralines are the joint creation of Melinda and Geert, a couple that relocated to Prague after the Hungarian-born Melinda quit her job, met Geert in Belgium and decided to make artisan chocolates as part of her creative urge. The pralines and chocolates are beautifully decorated and creative and are made from high-quality ingredients. Where to buy? Online at their website. For perhaps a more accessible alternative, have a look at Jordi's chocolates at the Sklizeno foodie market at Vodickova 33 street. 


Well, this is just a short selection of things we really like. The list could be much longer of course, but for more ideas, we'll send you to our favorite shops instead. We are pretty sure you'll find your perfect gift there.

Harddecore - A wonderful gallery/shop with a great selection of Czech design with many things made specifically for this place.

Kurator - One of our favorite shops in Prague owned by lovely and friendly couple, Martina and Jan. They will do their best to help you find a beautiful gift (and probably feed you, too). 

La Gallery Novesta - This beautiful concept store carries pieces by many great Czech fashion (and other) designers such as Zuzana Kubickova, Jakub Polanka, Katerina Geislerova, etc. Your better half will be very happy to see you've picked something for her there.

Futurista - This unique space has a great selection of the best of Czech design, art books, jewelry and architecture.

Ingredients - We bet this is the nicest smelling shop in Prague. You can spend hours in this wonderful perfume store, but anything you pick from perfumes, candles to cosmetics will definitely bring a smile on the face on the receiving end.

Panska Pasaz - Imagine 10 great shops under one roof, all carrying great gifts for men. From great watches, ties and shoes to quality whiskey and cigars. As a bonus, you'll find a popup store there until Friday, Dec 13, featuring the talented Leo Macenauer and beautiful bags by Playbag.

Well, this concludes our annual list of Christmas presents from Prague tips. If you are missing something or are looking for something specific, let us know!

And remember: sometimes it may be better just to spend it on yourself:

Shopping in Prague: Communist era Czech vintage treasures

Today, we have a tip for lovers of all things vintage. When we travel we always search for unique local things to bring home. Although we can spend hours antique hunting when we travel, back home we used to prefer young designers. But that’s changing. For a long time the design quality of Communist-era Czechoslovak design objects was ignored by almost everyone. These pieces were basically seen as nothing to write home about. However, the popular haunts for vintage object lovers like NoveretroNanovoMoare/Retroobjects and Tuzeks - all started out of a love for vintage things - have slowly made pointed our attention to design gems that are also becoming very popular on the world market.